It's no secret that over the past few months things have really been taking off in the online automotive space for dealers and a lot of attention is being paid to the more leading edge, innovative companies (and some not-so-leading-edge ones). It really seems that retail is starting to embrace, at a minimum, the 'change' in mindset. At the same time it's not too hard to see that it may be overload.
When you consider the amount of good information, new technology, availability of tools (especially those that are free or inexpensive), vast selection of downloads/blogs/webinars and more, it really seems like a heyday for flipping the switch and going forward like a gleaming new Boeing 787, But just like the impressive 'Dreamliner", you can't get off the ground if your resources aren't trained for the flight.
We still seem to be hamstrung by our best resource: staff, desire, goal-setting, application, training and simple commitment. In a recent meeting, a general manager was talking about how he'd like to offload the lead handling to a staff member. Yes…a GM wanted to have someone else take up the task of correctly touching, responding to and managing the leads. Huh?!?!?!?!?
All of this made me flash back to the AM/PM radio spots with their campaign "Too Much Good Stuff". We can SEO/PPC/CRM/DMS/PMA/CPO/RO/MICKEYMOUSE a dealer to death. By the same token, you've got to be able to execute on all of those lovely acronyms. Start with the leads.
Don't have the right person(s)? You had better look at all of your sales staff. Don't apply any excuses to any one of them. Can't type an effective email? Chances are you can't communicate very effectively on the floor. Sorry, you must not ignore one and not the other. They go hand-in-hand. Can't turn on a monitor or CPU? Just imagine that all of the 'old dogs' on your sales floor had to learn something about navigation/Bluetooth/OnStar/Sync/back up assist/iDrive and more on new cars over the past few years. And chances are your 40-50 plus year-old techs in the back have had to learn something (actually a heck of a lot) that's new under the hood. Again, stop excusing lack and ignoring ignorance.
Don't have someone that can lead efforts on your website, integration, social media, templates, vendor management and more? You need one. Don't hire a salesperson to do it…and don't hire an IT person either. Hire someone with a balance of skills covering all the aspects: communication, technology, customer service and ensure that it's someone that can conjugate what they'll do for you, not what they did for someone else.
Understand, staff, educate, execute and then lead with some consistent effort and passion. Every dealer that wants to thrive, let alone survive, must be able to assess and improve on ALL aspects of their presence, brand and sales, especially online. To get better results you've got to think and do things differently. And that doesn't mean thinking differently by keeping the person on that has been selling 3-6 cars a month for months just to have them post in social media networks (by the way, that's a mistake!).
Here's a challenge: Make your business plans by December 31, target your staff and online needs, plot your strategy, write everything down, stick to it all year long and (here's the hard part) do everything that you're in control of and ignore the rest.
The difference this coming year between you making online work for you and not making it work can be devastating. Make "Too Much Good Stuff" work for you and then take it all…
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
Very good points raised Gary.
The dealers moving the needle are paying attention to the “little” things so they can focus on the big things.
(The little things being response time, response clarity and responsiveness.)
The big things, like online strategy and process, will come once the little things are mastered.